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A Blessing in Disguise

Kenny Chiu, Member of Parliament for the Steveston – Richmond East riding, recently shared with us some of his reflections on the COVID-19 experience in his workplace and home.

MP Kenny Chiu at his constituency office in Steveston, 2020

For many food businesses in Richmond, the negative impact of COVID-19 did not start in late March but in mid-January. Typically, many community and business associations would reserve restaurants to host Lunar New Year celebrations. But as I have learned from a restaurateur who owns Richmond’s largest Chinese restaurant, as soon as news of the virus reached the Pacific Northwest coast, customers began cancelling their banquet reservations, and within a few weeks they incurred huge losses to their business. In response to these challenges, and to regain the confidence of their customers, the business introduced elevated temperature detection devices, plexi-glass dividers and a range of new health and safety protocols in order to provide a safe environment for customers to dine in. 

From a personal perspective, prior to COVID-19, every Friday evening I would hop on a plane to return home to BC, and on Sunday evening I would reverse that and get on a plane to head to Ottawa. Due to social distancing measures, the House of Commons has been closed since mid-March, which has put a pause on my weekly travel routine. Despite that, I have continued to advocate for my constituents in Richmond, including already three trips to Ottawa to participate in debates and extraordinary meetings. Ironically the COVID-19 pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for the Chiu family. In the ‘old normal’ times, the House of Commons conducts its business from Monday to Friday, and all members are expected to attend meetings. For MPs like myself who do not live in the vicinity, we would spend five days a week in Ottawa and only be home for the weekends.

My two young adult daughters, who have been juggling busy schedules between school and social gatherings, have also had to put a pause on their regular routines and stay home. Both of my daughters and I can now share more home cooked meals together as a family. Because of my work, I used to participate in many engagements, dinner meetings, events and banquets. I ate out frequently and some of the food may not be the best for my health. My wife and I cherish this time of being together, and I am grateful that our daughters and I can now enjoy her tasty and nutritious home-cooked meals every day. But most of all, the one who is the happiest to see us at home is our beloved dog, Nugget, who can now get treats and belly rubs from us all day long!